Los Angeles Dodgers: 5 Free Agents to Pursue in the Offseason
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As the days until the conclusion of the 2012 season rush past like a high-and-tight fastball, Dodgers fans are holding onto every ounce of hope as the Blue Crew sits 3.5 games back in the NL wild card with seven games remaining.
With the decreasing possibility of the Dodgers making the playoffs this year, we look forward to the 2013 season as all loyal fans do. Here’s your “Get ‘em next year” to make you feel a tad more positive about the current disappointment.
While the Dodgers made some outstanding moves this season and brought superstars onto a team that was primarily filled with anonymous players, there are still a few moves that the new ownership can make that would help round out the roster.
With some big-name players headed for free agency, here are five free agents that the Dodgers should pursue this offseason.
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The Dodgers expressed interest in the Mets’ slugging third baseman during this season and will still have their eye on him in the offseason when his contract expires with New York.
The 28-year-old’s contract will be hefty, but the upside is that he has been one of the most consistent hitters for the past eight seasons.
New ownership Guggenheim Baseball Management has let it become known that it is willing to do whatever it takes to bring a World Series back to L.A., and investing in a solid third baseman would help achieve that goal.
With an already beefy lineup that includes Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Adrian Gonzalez and Hanley Ramirez, adding Wright would make the Blue Crew one of the best hitting teams in baseball.
That is—as we’ve seen with the recent star acquisitions—if they manage to put the bat on the ball.
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The Los Angeles Angels acquired Rockies catcher Chris Iannetta as a part of their monster offseason transactions that included bringing Albert Pujols to Anaheim. However, Iannetta hasn’t played as much as anticipated for the Angels.
It may be that he hasn’t been as solid behind the plate or he's simply more compatible with certain pitchers in the Angels’ rotation, but whatever it may be, manager Mike Scioscia has had Iannetta alternating games with Bobby Wilson, who isn’t much of a hitter.
With a heavy-hitting lineup as is, the Angels don’t need, or to get too much use out of Iannetta, who hits last in the batting order.
On that same note, the Dodgers' 37-year-old backup catcher Matt Treanor will also become a free agent after this season ends and his contract probably won’t be renewed.
While there are always minor league options, Don Mattingly could use an experienced catcher to back up A.J. Ellis, who has performed well this season and exerts an excellent work ethic.
There are other options out there, but Iannetta would be a decent pickup as a backup catcher.
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As he has proved in his 13-year-old career with nearly 200 wins, Tim Hudson can flat-out win ballgames. Even at 37 years old this season, he can still hurl.
Signing a veteran pitcher like Hudson at around $9 million could be risky, but chances are that the Dodgers would benefit from a one-year contract with the current Atlanta Brave.
With Chad Billingsley’s return unknown and the futures of Joe Blanton (who is also a free agent) and Aaron Harang uncertain in the Dodgers’ rotation, Hudson would be a good pickup.
The condition of his aging arm is cause for concern, but his arm is in much better shape than that of Ted Lilly, who was only able to take the mound for the Dodgers a few times in the beginning of the season before joining the disabled list for an inflamed shoulder.
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After many inconsistent seasons, Cardinals starting pitcher Kyle Lohse has found his groove in the past two seasons and been a huge contributor to his team’s success with aces Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright battling injury.
Lohse has been outstanding in his contract year (15-3 2.71 ERA 129 SO), so much so that manager Mike Matheny has been vocal about his expectations for him to be a Cy Young candidate.
Although he is only 33, at more than $12 million per year, Lohse is a risk that the Dodgers may not be able to afford if he doesn’t match his recent success with the Cardinals.
Coming off an excellent season, Lohse’s agent will probably be biting interested franchises' wallets, which may deter the Dodgers from signing the 11-year starting pitcher.
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Facing the Dodgers in his past four seasons with the Giants, Jeremy Affeldt has been a consistent left-handed reliever and has been a versatile weapon coming out of the bullpen.
Since making the transition from a starter to a reliever in 2007 with the Rockies, Affeldt has been a go-to lefty, whether it be for an inning or two or just to face another lefty.
With 15 holds and a 2.83 earned run average this season for the Giants, who have struggled to find an everyday closer throughout the season, he has proven to be a valuable asset in pressure situations.
The Dodgers will most likely shake up their bullpen as they have done frequently from year to year and Affeldt would be a great addition to the Blue Crew’s bullpen, which could use a few more lefties.
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While the Dodgers’ offense has been the focus of their recent struggles to make the playoffs, a growing void on the team is their pitching, which will need an upgrade in the offseason to accompany their potentially explosive offense.
The new ownership has proved that it is willing to spend cash to improve the team, but they don’t need to get overanxious and try to bring in more superstars like the Yankees do.
With that said, signing veteran starters like Hudson and Lohse would do the team well and take pressure off of young ace Clayton Kershaw, who has been carrying the pitching staff for quite some time now as the Dodgers’ No. 1 starter.
Out of these five potential free-agent signings, one or two will be actuated.